Natalie Wilkie competed in the women’s 15-km cross-country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Natalie Wilkie competed in the women’s 15-km cross-country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Shuswap Paralympian Natalie Wilkie earns silver medal at Para Nordic World Cup

Young skier adds a medal to her fourth place finish in Finland

Salmon Arm Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie claimed her first Para Nordic World Cup medal on Dec. 16, earning a silver medal as the youngest competitor in the running.

Wilkie finished with the top sprint time of the Team Canada women’s ski team in two races at the Para Nordic World Cup in Vuokatti, Finland this week, earning a silver medal in the women’s standing classic race and a fourth-place finish in the 2.5km sprint race amongst a pack of the world’s top para Nordic skiers.

The Para Nordic World Cup brings together the top Paralympian skiers in the world for a competition hosted in new places around the globe each year. This season will include three world cup events, one in Finland, Sweden and Japan, leading up to the championship event. In February, Prince George will host the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, highlighting the extremely active community of B.C. skiers and snowboarders for the world to see.

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Wilkie competed as part of Team Canada at the cup in Finland, less than a year after stunning the world with her gold-medal finish at the 2018 Paralympics. Her fourth-place finish in the 2.5km race came with a time of 6:42.6, the top time out of all Canadian women who competed in the event and just four seconds away from the podium.

Norway’s Vilde Nilsen, who Wilkie also competed against at the Paralympics, set the time to beat at 6:24.2. Two athletes from the Ukraine grabbed the silver and bronze medals. Liudmyla Liashenko was second at 6:25.2, while Oleksandra Kononova was third fastest in Finland with a time of 6:42.6.

On Dec. 16, Wilkie competed in her next event, along with teammate Emily Young, in a 1.2km classic sprint race. She staked her claim on the world cup podium during this event, finishing just behind Vilde Nilsen of Norway and earning the silver medal.

After this finish, the Canadian Cross-Country Ski team said in a press release that “she has now firmly established herself as one of the top Para-Nordic athletes in the world.”

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Wilkie’s teammates, Brian McKeever, also from B.C., and sit-skier Collin Cameron of Ontario, won gold medals of their own in the men’s races in Finland.